The situation in the United States regarding pesticides and plastics is frightening. Neither product is sufficiently tested, studied, nor regulated. The general public is severely under-informed about the situation, most not realizing their risks at all or the severity and prevalence of their contact with these substances. Federal and state law and regulation, as well as the institutions designed to implement and enforce environmental regulation, are not equipped to handle the severity of the threat pesticides and plastics pose. However, there are institutions in place, which could be empowered, streamlined, and better funded in order to address the dangers of these materials.
Pesticides are chemical substances designed specifically to destroy life. For a great part of the 20th century they were applied liberally and excessively, with no understanding of their permanence in the environment or their effects on non-target species. The standard by which they were measured were their lethality and the length with which they were effective—the exact factors that make them more harmful to the environment, and eventually to human health. They allowed the rise of the great American farm monoculture, and create a paradigm shift away from farming productivity as a function of skill and towards productivity based on the amount of chemical inputs, of both pesticides and fertilizers.
The plastic industry bloomed later, but has made great inroads since the 1950’s . Plastic products are now commonplace in all facets of the human landscape. They protect our food, bottle our beverages, are implanted in our bodies, and are incorporated into many of the products we come into contact with daily, including components of our own homes. Their healt...
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...example action would be to dismantle the corn-based subsidy system explained by Pollan and incentivize polyculture and organic farming to shift away from pesticides. Finally, economic factors would be divorced from safety considerations and companies would not be refunded for lost revenue due to the banning of hazardous substances.
"The 2005 U.S. Pesticide Industry Report Is The First Report To Provide Details On Changes Occurring During The 2005 Calendar Year Within The U.S. Pesticide Industry." BNET. Business Wire, 29 Mar. 2007. Web. 03 Mar. 2010. .
Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: Penguin, 2006. Print.
Wargo, John. Green Intelligence: Creating Environments That Protect Human Health. New Haven, Ct.: Yale UP, 2006. Print.